As the Lady Coogs begin the District 31-6A season Friday at Vela, they bring in a wealth of experience after 18 contests. And last week’s results - Tuesday’s home victory against Brownsville Rivera and a then rout of visiting Miller – showed showed that their defense is very sound indeed.

Harassing the Lady Raiders from the start with the press, North bounded to a 14-0 lead before the visitor settled in, and eventually clinched a 52-34 result. The club got 10 kids into the scoring column – seniors Tiffany Chapa and Fernie Olvera combining for 24 points – but the real force was at the other end.

There, the work was fierce with Olvera pounding away four enemy tries and sophomore Bri Martinez attacking each pass with intensity; Martinez is sharp at off-ball help. Every Lady Coog on the floor was active, aggressive, and effective, including the youngsters. Freshman Lesley Martinez was particularly impressive during a stretch in the second period, making some shots and showing excellent anticipation on D; she has good size and instincts, and should be a fixture in the rotation for years to come.

As for the vets, junior Tilly Villarreal showed her maturity by making several sharp passes and continuing to improve on D. Villarreal, who scored in double digits six times in the early going, including three nights of 17 points each, suffered through an off night on offense Tuesday but made up for that with hustle and determination. Classmate Anzelhany Jordan was once again a powerpack out there with aggressive play and excellent athleticism.

Though North did not shoot very well Tuesday – something the team has struggled with in recent years – its depth and speed are elements to be reckoned with. The Lady Coogs bombed CC Miller, 64-23, Friday with Martinez netting a season-high 17 points.

THE BEGINNING

Against a Vela squad that has not yet hit stride, the opener should be a good gauge on the Lady Coogs and their chances in the race.

The Lady Sabes, with Jaida Muhammad sidelined by an ankle sprain and Bianca Cortez also on and off, have bumped along at a 5-12 mark so far, but have the talent to make a splash in the chase. Tuesday they lost a low-scoring slugfest to Harlingen South, despite a late three-ball from sophomore Kayleen Rios.

Vela has not had its full complement on the floor in two weeks due to injuries and must get healthy in order to get on the good foot for district. Amid a recent 6-game losing streak, senior Teri Garza has stepped up well, scoring 36 points during a three-game stretch. The main questions for the district opener are: will the Lady Sabes healthy? Can they handle the pressure from North? And can the Lady Coogs hit enough shots to win?

LADY JAGS FACE EHS IN OPENER

Econ meanwhile wrapped up the non-district slate with matches versus Raymondville and La Joya last week, and stands at 7-13 heading into Friday’s league opener, at home against EHS. The Lady Jags are still searching for balance in the attack, and will have a tall task ahead in the Lady Bobcats, now 17-5.

EHS has no problems with depth as three kids average 10 or more and two others are right behind. Junior Jayla SantaMaria, in eight games since returning from injury, has scored 147 points, including a season-high 30 against Harlingen Dec. 2. Surging senior Emily Acosta has knocked in 33 threes so far, and has made at least one from beyond the arc in 16 of the team’s 22 games.

The club has recorded some significant wins of late, including two victories against Harlingen to go with successes versus McAllen Memorial and Weslaco. In beating the Pantherettes at home Tuesday, the girls hammered in seven treys. Jayla SantaMaria threw down 27 as the Lady ‘Cats again bested the Lady Cards Friday, by 8.